By Sam Bush

With the major league trading deadline only 21 days away, July 31, the Phillies are getting desperate to make a deal.

Last night’s second straight shutout to the Dodgers only reemphasizes how badly this historically awful team needs hitting.

The question remains:

Can the embarrassingly bad general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. actually make a trade?

That is, can he complete a deal that actually gives the team prospects and hope for the future that fans can hang their hat on?

The Phils are obvious sellers, but how much they’ll sell in the next few weeks is now in question.

The team recently hired Andy MacPhail, but he doesn’t officially become the boss until this season is over, and he has a history of working slowly and wanting to “win” deals instead of simply taking the best of what’s available at a given time.

They certainly are one of the more interesting sellers with Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon (above) and Ben Revere, among others, being available.

The Phillies obvious trading partner is the team they just lose three out of four to: the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Andrew Friedman/Farhan Zaidi regime has had mixed reviews so far in L.A., as they’ve made a few good acquisitions (trading for Yasmani Grandal, signing Brett Anderson) and a few that haven’t worked out (trading away Dee Gordon, signing Brandon McCarthy).

They made a killing on the international-signing market, but to win in 2015, they’ll need more starting pitching depth. The rival Nationals and Cardinals are loaded with top-of-rotation-level starters, and the Dodgers need another one to put behind Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.

They won’t trade prospect Julio Urias, but even without him included, they have enough to land Cole Hamels or Johnny Cueto. They’re downplaying things behind the scenes, but this is still a team to watch.

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